RIGA - As Russia and Belarus are finding themselves in international isolation, their intelligence agencies are paying increased attention to groups of foreign travelers in their territories where they can use a broad range of methods to coerce Latvian citizens into forced collaboration, LETA was told at the State Security Service.
Considering the aggressive war Russia is waging against Ukraine, the State Security Service pays special attention of trips of Latvian state and municipal officials and related persons to Russia and its closest ally Belarus, assessing such activities in accordance with its competence.
Representatives of the State Security Service confirmed that the Security Service is aware of group trips to Belarus organized by Dmitrijs Ribnikovs, an aide to Daugavpils vice mayor and representative of the NGO Latvia's Russian Community.
The State Security Service regards such activities as incompatible with Latvia's national security interests. The group trips to Belarus organized by Ribnikovs and his remarks to Belarusian information outlets contradict Latvia's condemnation of Belarus' support to aggressor state Russia. Considering the circumstances, such activities of a Latvian municipal representative are not conducive to the cohesion of Latvia's society in the current complicated circumstances, the Security Service noted.
The State Security Service has repeatedly warned of espionage risks associated with Latvian municipalities' cross-border cooperation with Russia and Belarus. According to the State Security Service's information, municipalities not only in Latvia's eastern region of Latgale but also in other regions have terminated or suspended official cooperation with Russia and Belarus.
The State Security Service indicated that the Russian and Belarusian intelligence agencies have always been interested in recruiting Latvian state and municipal officials, employees or related persons, as they can be useful as sources of information and agents performing various activities in the interests of Russia or Belarus.